Tuesday, July 31, 2012

St Ignatius Loyola; the society of Jesus

One of things that the Vatican Council hoped for, and has not yet succeeded in accomplishing is creating a deep love of scripture. St Jerome said, "Ignorance of scripture was ignorance of Christ". St Ignatius of Loyola  understood that scripture, particularly the Gospels had to be at the heart of the movement he intended to found. The choice of the name, the Company or "Society" of Jesus was a very deliberate choice on his part, in in order to make is followers into men who were to have have the zeal of the first disciples and be willing to lay down their lives for Jesus, it was necessary that they should know him in the same way as the first disciples.


To accomplish this, the tool Ignatius used was meditation, like artists of his time he got his followers to make real in their minds the events in the Gospels, to at least in their minds to present in the company or society of Jesus.

from the 1st Meditaion of the Exercises 
Here it is to be noted that, in a visible contemplation or meditation -- as, for
instance, when one contemplates Christ our Lord, Who is visible -- the composition
will be to see with the sight of the imagination the corporeal place where the thing
is found which I want to contemplate. I say the corporeal place, as for instance, a
Temple or Mountain where Jesus Christ or Our Lady is found, according to what I
want to contemplate. In an invisible contemplation or meditation -- as here on the
Sins -- the composition will be to see with the sight of the imagination and consider
that my soul is imprisoned in this corruptible body, and all the compound in this
valley, as exiled among brute beasts: I say all the compound of soul and body

7 comments:

parepidemos said...

The older I become the more I realise how accurate Ignatius was when he said that one should be able to find God in all things. I am so grateful to have been blessed and enriched by Jesuit education.

Dorotheus said...

Is it quite accurate to say that Vatican II has not succeeded in bringing about a deep love of Scripture? I would have thought that the Council's emphasis on renewing the Church by re-connecting with the basics or essentials of Christian life and faith where these had become distorted or obscured has very much led, inter alia, to a deeper knowledge and love of Scripture among many Catholics. The three-year cycle of the lectionary with its more coherent pattern of readings has been a great help here. So too has the renewal of Ignatian spirituality that has come from the Council and the way the SJ has opened up the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius to a much wider range of people and in more imaginative and flexible ways than used to be the case, in response to the Council's vision of the Church as the whole people of God. If anything this is quite a success story for Vatican II. Credit where credit is due.

Pastor said...

I agree with Dorotheus. Before Vatican II, the weeday readings at the Mass were either taken from the previous Sunday or from the feast day of a saint. I much prefer the present two year cycle for weekdays.

John Nolan said...

Dorotheus, do you really believe that the three-year lectionary cycle is of any benefit to modern people who have an attention span of three minutes? How many people understand the OT reading which is rarely in context anyway? And since when was the Mass a bible study class? The Usus Antiquior in both Mass and Office is far more scriptually relevant and consistent than is Bugnini's creation.

If you don't believe me, look at the explanation in the St Andrew Daily Missal (1945) for every Sunday after Pentecost, linking both Mass and Office, and compare it with what we have for OT Sundays in the NO.

You've fallen for the hype (I did so to a certain extent 40 years ago) but it's time to get real.

Fr Michael H. said...

"One of things that the Vatican Council hoped for, and has not yet succeeded in accomplishing is creating a deep love of scripture."

I agree Father, I am pretty certain people are as ignorant of the Pauline Epistle or the theology of Micah or Hosea today as they were before the Council.

As a priest involved in formation, though not teaching scripture, it strikes me that we are in many places still teaching about scripture rather than teaching scripture.

The main problem is that most Catholic do not understand how to read scripture, as the Council and the Church has always taught, I mean at the four levels. We tend to treat it in the same way as liberal Protestants do; something to be dissected and disassembled rather than something to be pondered, and returned to again and again.

Though I must say, thanks mainly to BXVI's writings things are slowly getting better.

Dorotheus said...

Mr. Nolan, both you and Fr. M. seem to be unduly pessimistic. I would guess that most people were pretty unreceptive to Scripture in the days of the Latin mass which you say was far more Scripturally relevant and consistent (I don't know what you could mean by that - maybe you have fallen for the hype of the EF?). My experience is that many people are much more Scripturally aware today. There is a place for study of Scripture (to call it dissection and disassembly is unnecessarily brutal) in both Catholic and Protestant traditions, but in retreats, spiritual direction, prayer groups there is also much prayerful pondering of God's Word (among Protestants too!) - again probably far more than there was in the pre-Council Church - and not least through the renewal of the Ignatian way and its being made available to laypeople in response to the call of VII. I have just taken part in an Ignatian retreat in which most of the participants were laypeople - unthinkable under old-style Catholicism. My own parish has regular groups for Lectio divina and so do others that I know - did that happen pre-VII?
The current lectionary is a great help here, because it is more coherent and respectful of the integrity of the books of Scripture than the old lectionary which haphazardly fillets selected extracts. People are encouraged to look at a whole Gospel, for instance, and there plenty of aids available for use outside the liturgy - not of course during the Mass itself: who would ever suggest that that should be a Bible seminar? Also the current cycle of readings is based on the ecumenical Common Lectionary - not the creation of Bugnini. You seem not to know any of this, so perhaps it is you who needs to get real.

Brendan Devine said...

Dorotheus, I think you miss the point of the lections. There is no point in Scripture at Mass simply for the sake of listening to Scripture; rather, they are sacramental commentaries on thr mysteries celebrated at each Mass, which can lead to some repetition, especially for votive Masses. There is really no point in just plunging through a Biblical boom, chapter by chapter--as is the case in the post1965 Missals. Moreover, I do not see how simply reading a large quantity of scripture increases devotion. Admittedly this does not happen in the Traditional Mass, but that was never it's aim. I find the vast majority of Catholics who attend the Pauline liturgy are no more Biblically versed than your average pre-V2 Catholic: they know the major OT stories, the Gospel miracles, the Passion, and some lines of St Paul. Some know more, but they, as before the Council, are a small minority. I myself practice lectio divina and wish more did, but I see your parish experience to be the post-Conciliar exception rather than the rule; I have never encountered lectio divina in any church or chapel not run by the Society of Jesus--save one SSPX chapel. And I don't see how overloading people with three years of discombobulated passages encourages lectio divina. Engenderig and nurturing love of Scripture is a worthy objective, but I don't see the three year reading cycle or the Pauline Hours as capable of accomplishing it. It has to start with devout priests, not with three unconnected lections every Sunday (not to mention that dreadful responsorial psalm).